Glaucoma, popularly known as eye pressure or “Blackwater Disease”, causes damage to the optic nerves as a result of increased intraocular pressure. If it is not diagnosed early and treatment is not started, it can result in blindness over the years.
Turkish Ophthalmology Society Glaucoma Unit President Prof. Dr. Belkıs Ilgaz Yalvaç made important warnings, stating that many patients were disrupted in their follow-up, especially during the pandemic period, due to restrictions and periods when clinics could not serve patients other than emergency patients. Prof. Dr. Prophet, from 78 million glaucoma patients lose the ability to see the world, noting that Turkey also estimated that 6 million of the 2.5 million glaucoma patients, but said that could take one quarter of patients diagnosed.
Prof. Dr. Yalvaç, “There is a fluid produced in our eye. This fluid (inside the eye) creates a normal tension, ie pressure. When these values are exceeded, pressure on the visual nerves from the back of our eye to the brain occurs and glaucoma occurs. Glaucoma is actually the most common cause of blindness in the world. According to the latest data of the World Health Organization, we know that approximately 78 million people are being treated for this disease. Among these, 6 million people have lost their sight. The figures in our country are parallel to this. We estimate that there are approximately 2.5 million glaucoma patients. “Only a quarter of these can be diagnosed,” he said.
Touching on the reasons why patients could not be diagnosed early, Prof. Dr. Yalvaç said, “First, many eye diseases create certain symptoms, create awareness and quickly reach the doctor. However, since the symptoms of glaucoma progress insidiously, we see that there are early symptoms that cannot be noticed by the patient, especially in the type we call open angle glaucoma.
This is revealed by the loss of the patient’s peripheral vision. However, since it is not noticed by the patient, most of the time, the patient is diagnosed incidentally as a result of the tests performed by the ophthalmologist during the eye examination for another reason. In other words, one of the most important problems is that it is not noticed by the patient in the early period, but this does not occur when a doctor is consulted. For this reason, it is important to raise awareness of the society on the occasion of Glaucoma Week and to direct people over the age of 40 to eye examinations in a way that risk factors are more prominent in this regard, in order to raise awareness against the disease.
Stating that central vision is sufficient in terms of visual functions, Prof. Dr. Yalvaç continued his words as follows:
“We see it more in the type of glaucoma that we call open angle and predominantly see. There is another type of glaucoma, which is the type we call closed angle glaucoma, on the contrary, due to the sudden increase in intraocular pressure, there is pain around the eye, blurred vision, and even outside the eye. Symptoms such as nausea and vomiting may cause the patient to apply to the emergency department, but this type is seen at a very low rate among glaucoma cases. About 10-15 percent of the cases have symptoms of this degree. Therefore, we can say that no symptoms are noticed in most of the patients. For this reason, the disease is missed, but it is revealed during an eye examination.
Emphasizing that the most important risk factor in glaucoma is genetic predisposition, Prof. Dr. Yalvaç continued his warnings as follows: “We can explain the type that occurs especially in newborn babies with genetic factors. However, we know that in adults, people with glaucoma in their parents and very close relatives are 7 times more likely to develop the disease. A high intraocular pressure and other risks. The combination of factors causes the patient to go to final blindness within 10-15 years if not treated.
On the contrary, blindness is prevented when the patient starts medical treatments at an early stage and has the necessary controls regularly. During the pandemic period, glaucoma patients had difficulty in reaching their physicians. They were deprived of control and treatment. This can also cause disruptions in the medicines they need to use regularly at home.
In the treatment, changes may need to be made over time. In cases where medical treatments are insufficient, laser treatment and surgical treatments can be applied. Therefore, patients need to stay under the control of an ophthalmologist for life. Sometimes, even our patients who undergo surgical treatment should come to the controls at regular intervals and their glaucoma changes should be determined as a result of the analysis. After the diagnosis is made, the patient has to stay in contact with the ophthalmologist for life. “